Essentials of Denver
Discover the best places for everything in Denver.
Food and Drink Essentials: Best Places to...
Whole Foods. There are four in Boulder and another 11 in the Denver area. Denver’s best is in the Tamarac area, 7400 E. Hampden Ave. It has an island ringed by a bar and chairs, where you can sit and order fresh pizza and other Italian food. Ditto for the seafood area. One rather large section of the market is dedicated entirely to smoked seafood. Barbecue? The staff smokes the store's own meats, and they have a barbecue station busy with employees cutting slabs of brisket and pork for customers.
If you’re not up for a Whole Foods experience -- confronting such a pageant of opulence can intimidate or irritate (or both) -- check out the city’s Safeway markets (one at 6220 E. 14th Ave., 303-355-7339). Many of them are trying to compete with Whole Foods by stocking much more organic foodstuffs, and by broadening their selection of gourmet products.
GET A BEER
Falling Rock Tap House
1919 Blake St.
If you like beer, then Denver is your nirvana. The state supports dozens of breweries and even more brewpubs. Falling Rock Tap House doesn’t brew its own beer, but it does gather in one spot as much Colorado beer as possible. The people who work the taps know their beer.
GRAB DRINKS WITH A YOUNGER CROWD
The Thin Man
2015 E. 17th Ave.
Hipsters, intellectuals and plain old partyers hang out at this Uptown bar, which is open to the sidewalk in the summer. It’s not a fancy place, and the food options are minimal, but the vibe is gold.
GRAB A LATE-NIGHT BITE
1962 E. Colfax
If you’re aching for something chipotle or lemongrass, a smattering of things fish sauce, tamarind or confit, don’t come to this pocket-sized diner. But a late-night burger, a mess of home fries, a chicken fried steak, gyros plate or hot beef sandwich? Pete’s is your place.
SIP A LATTE
St. Mark’s Coffeehouse
2019 E. 17th St.
Plank floors. Eclectic music. Capacious interior. Good coffee. Amazing vibe. That’s St. Mark’s, in the Uptown neighborhood beside the aforementioned Thin Man bar. St. Mark’s is the funkiest coffeeshop in Denver. It’s a mish-mash; the art on the walls, the chairs and tables, the people. It’s the best place for people-watching in the city.
Kaladi Brothers Coffee
1730 E. Evans Ave.
This University of Denver hangout has the rough-hewn ambiance you might seek on a cold December afternoon, but it’s the coffee that will keep you coming back. The owner is a true coffee geek; he even travels to coffee-growing countries to scope out the beans and he roasts it himself.
Entertainment Essentials: Best Places to...
HAVE FUN FOR FREE
- Hang out in Washington Park or City Park. Denverites may not have beaches, working docks or sprawling ethnic neighborhoods, but they do have acres upon acres of parks. Washington Park and City Park are the grandest. The vibes are different; Washington Park is busier and seems to attract a more upscale crowd; City Park wraps around the Denver Zoo and the Museum of Nature and Science and is more ethnically diverse, but both are worth repeat visits.
- Attend one of the Denver Zoo’s free days. Don’t miss the lions roaming the glass-walled savanna, the white wolves or the indoor tropical biosphere. Most importantly, though, do stroll. Denver Zoo meanders. It’s lush with vegatation -- a rarity along the Front Range of Colorado -- and thick with wildlife.
- Visit the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway on the first Saturday of the month when it’s free. People from around the world visit the Denver Art Museum for its collection of art from the American West, and they also flock to the museum to see the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. Increasingly, too, the museum is exhibiting contemporary art. The recent blockbuster by German artist Daniel Richter is one of many the museum has brought to Denver.
- Walk the Cherry Creek path. Cherry Creek is a pleasant stream that flows 10 miles from a reservoir southeast of Denver into the heart of the Mile High City. A paved path follows Cherry Creek for its length. Walkers, runners, bikers and even unicyclists take advantage of the path year-round which cuts through downtown neighborhoods, suburbia and a reservoir alive with wildlife.
- Check out the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge just north of the city at 5650 Havana St., Commerce City. Want to see an eagle? Herds of mule deer and elk? Coyotes? This 12,500 acres of wildlife preserve has all of that and more. Beginning in World War II, the arsenal was a hazardous chemicals factory making napalm and chemical agents. But the federal government has worked since the 1980s to decontaminate the land. A relatively small portion of the arsenal is open to the public but that sliver is stirring, especially when combined with wildlife sightings.